The Asus ZenBook Flip S is a stylish laptop that doubles as a tablet, and even comes with a stylus. But is it worth your cash?
You’ve got to hand it to Asus. On the one hand they create gaming hardware packed full of in-your-face awesome that’s as subtle as a punch in the guts, but on the other hand they create stylish equipment sure to be the envy of the boardroom.
Asus’s ZenBooks are some of the lightest and thinnest laptops that you are every likely to see. Usually you’d expect some compromise, but the ZenBook Flip S can accommodate an Intel i7 and even a 4K screen. The review machine that Asus sent over was not quite up to that spec- it was powered by a i5- 8250U and had a more pedestrian HD screen, but it still managed to impress me. In any case, as sexy as the i7 and 4K options are, the lack of a decent GPU solution makes those hi-spec upgrades a bit over-the-top and unnecessary.
Equipped with a very responsive stylus, and the screen folded back 360-degrees, the ZenBook becomes a very easy to use digital sketchbook. Windows 10’s 3D Paint was all I needed to see that, even with a 1920x1080 touchscreen, the device still produced some very fine pen-strokes.
As the ZenBook runs Windows 10, you’ve pretty much got everything you need straight out of the box. If you’ve not already, you can take a trial of Office 365 and play with the likes of Excel and Word, with loads of other apps available in the Windows Store.
Talking of apps, it would be wrong of me to not try and push the ZenBook Flip S a little bit. With visuals handled via an on-board Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU you are not going to get much mileage out of the device when it comes to games.
Microsoft have something called Play Anywhere. If you buy some games digitally on Xbox One you get a free copy for PC. The recent pirate game, Sea of Thieves, is one such title. I couldn’t resist installing one of Microsoft’s very latest games on the ZenBook. Whilst I wasn’t able to crank the visuals up to the max, the game ran in an acceptable manner, enough for me to be able to get my pirate gaming fix on the go. Playing with an Xbox controller, or even plugging in a mouse needs a little bit of fidgeting about.
The ZenBook Flip S doesn’t come with much in the way of ports. Apart from a headphone socket, all you get is two USB-C ports. That’s right, the new USB standard that none of your other stuff has. The great thing about USB-C is that it’s is so easy to plug stuff into it. No more fumbling with cables. Doesn’t matter which way up it is, stuff will slip into your USB port with ease. But, if that wasn’t enough, as well as data and power, the USB-C can also handle video.
The ZenBook Flip S comes complete with an adapter that adds USB 3.0, RJ45 LAN, HDMI, VGA and a 3-in-one SD card reader. You could call it cheating, but as an HDMI port is taller than the actual ZenBook chassis, I’ll forgive them. In any case, most of the time you won’t need it anyway, especially as USB-C becomes the norm.
What you will need the adapter for is Windows Mixed Reality. With the Windows 10 Creators update, the operating system gained support for the Mixed Reality virtual reality kits being sold by the likes of Lenovo and Dell. With an i5 and on-board graphics, I thought that getting MR to run the review device was a bit optimistic.
That didn’t stop me from connecting a Dell Visor kit to the ZenBook. Running the Windows Mixed Reality compatibility test, the GPU was flagged as a potential issue. But the good news is that I was able to run a proper virtual reality set-up with this wafer thin, light as a feather, laptop. Of course, you are not going to get a high-end VR experience, but the ZenBook will enable use of the virtual office space in Windows MR for watching videos, viewing documents and the like. It’s pretty impressive.
Now, I wouldn’t say that the ZenBook Flip S is a great gaming machine, as it’s not. If you did want to have a sneaky bash at Minecraft when you should be preparing a Powerpoint presentation, you can. If you want to push things a little further you may get a few other titles running on it as well. But this is all a lucky extra on top of what the Asus ZenBook Flip S actually is, and that is a very stylish, compact and yet versatile laptop that also functions very well as a stylus-equipped tablet PC.
I had a lot of fun with the Asus ZenBook Flip S. It’s is a nice-looking, light-weight portable PC, that’s easy to recommend.